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Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) can’t find a strategic buyer, and right on cue come reports that the social media platform is set to unleash more layoffs. But that won’t make Twitter stock a buy. Frankly, nothing will now.
Ordinarily the market loves cost cuts, restructuring, headcount reductions, whatever you want to call them. Those sorts of moves allow more revenue to make its way to the bottom line. In the case of TWTR, it doesn’t matter.
You can’t cut your way to growth, and growth is what Twitter desperately needs. It looks increasingly like the user base has topped out — at suboptimal levels — and the company can’t adequately monetize the interest it does manage to command.
When the last of the potential suitors made it clear that no bid was coming for Twitter stock, layoffs and cost cuts became all but certain.
In case you’re not up to speed, TWTR stock soared after it became clear the company would sell itself to a strategic bidder. And then the bottom fell out. One by one, a veritable who’s who of potential partners dropped out. Salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM), Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) were said to have the most interest, but guesses extended to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft Corporation(NASDAQ:MSFT) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), too.
But TWTR didn’t get a bite.
So, if Twitter can’t grow and it can’t sell, then it has to cut. That’s not going to make it attractive enough for a buyer to step in.
It’s not just a question of price. The stumbling block isn’t a market cap of $12 billion; it’s that any price is too high for money-losing company that has topped out in terms of growth. TWTR looks to be about as big as it’s going to get — and it’s not nearly big enough.
Twitter Stock Always Needed Growth, But …
The importance of scale for a company like TWTR can’t be stressed enough. A user base north of 300 million might sound impressive, but not when you compare it to the competition.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) itself has 1.71 billion users. Facebook’s Instagram counts more than a half-billion users. Most worrisome of all, Snapchat has supplanted Twitter as the social network worth betting on.
Twitter might lay off as much as 8% of its workforce, according to reports. The announcement would most likely come as part of its quarterly earnings report later this week. Since it’s not exactly a secret, there’s little reason to see why Twitter stock would get even a moderate pop on the news. It should already be baked in.
Rather, it will save cash and help TWTR tread water a while longer as it tries to plan its next move. With a bidding war out of the question, cost cuts are the only thing the company can do to bolster the share price.
It does nothing to address Twitter’s real problems, which increasingly look insurmountable — and the market knows it. TWTR stock is off 25% for the year-to-date and only showed signs of life when an acquisition looked like an out.
Now that it’s off the table, there are no catalysts left.
Even the technicals are once again turning against Twitter stock. The collapse of deal interest sent shares crashing down through their 50-day moving average earlier this month. Currently they’re in the process of failing to find support at their 200-day moving average. At this rate, a death cross isn’t too far away in this chart’s future.
As we’ve noted before, if no one else wants to own Twitter, then neither should you.
What’s the right price to pay for a no-growth, net-loss company that’s being crushed by the mainstays of its industry and lapped by the upstarts?
As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned competition.